The story of a boy, who enlisted in the Navy, who became a man, who still retained the emotional maturity of that boy, yet convinced a woman to marry him.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

    The Delaware Valley freaked out this week after an earthquake sent a few tremors its way.  Despite all the hysteria, it packed about as much destructive force as a fart in a gym sock.
    In other words, don’t expect any sympathy cards from Southern California or anyone in Japan.
    Hurricane Irene came barreling through this weekend, toppling trees, swelling rivers, and adding even more rain to an already record amount for August.  It was a much more significant natural event than the ground-shaking “cataclysm” earlier this week.
    So, even though I heard more than a couple hand-wringers speak ominously of the coming apocalypse, I refused to get caught up in the hype.  Instead of fretting about the quake or heading for the hills before Irene hit, I did what, to me, seemed logical:
    I went to a ballgame.
    Sensing that all was right with the world if I could watch some baseball, I took my daughter along with one of her friends to a Trenton Thunder game on Friday night.
    I’ve been a baseball fan since the Nixon Administration and took in quite a few games growing up.  Most of the time I went to either Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium (whenever I couldn’t watch a good team). 
    Munching hot dogs and drinking soda under a crystal blue sky while watching eighteen guys chase a little white ball around an emerald field was heaven (in my adolescence I discovered girls, which opened up my definition of heaven somewhat).
    Once I moved here, I made a point to go to Veterans Stadium (later, Citizens Bank Park) to watch the Phillies get mauled and then eventually do the mauling.  It was every bit as exciting as going to watch the Yankees (with the added benefit of not being shot at two blocks from the stadium).
    As time went on, I began to realize that feeding my baseball “jones” was an expensive proposition. 
    Between decent seats, concessions, parking, and assorted fan paraphernalia for me and my kids, I could easily drop $500.  Add to that the frustration of getting there and dealing with the omnipresent drunks (to say nothing of relentless chants of “Yankees suck!”-even when the Phillies were playing the Braves), and I began to feel that my days of going to the “bigs” were nearing their close.
    Refusing to succumb to weekends spent doing chores, I decided to give our abundant minor league teams a shot.  Scoffing that I would be watching something like Little League, I wasn’t expecting much.
    From my first game watching the Reading Phillies, though, I was hooked.  Instead of considering myself lucky that I grabbed high-priced, nosebleed tickets which placed my head in peril from a jet’s landing gear, I paid a whopping $18.00 for two seats.
    Two rows behind homeplate!
    Add to that the price of lunch, and I still paid less than one ticket at Yankee Stadium (which, by the way, now sells a bottle of water-water!-for $5.00).
    Oh, yeah, did I mention parking?  Parking was free.
    In the years since, I’ve also gone to an Iron Pigs game in Allentown and, like I’ve already said, a Trenton Thunder game.  Each experience has been as pleasant as my first time in Reading. Imagine that.  Watching ballplayers who are playing to impress, not for million dollar sneaker deals.
    I can only assume the teams in Camden and Wilmington are just as worthwhile.
    I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the likes of Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, and Camden Yards.  Still, I don’t want to subsidize Alex Rodriguez’s and Cliff Lee’s salaries anymore.
    So, the next time you have a few dollars to spend and want to enjoy a great time for a reasonable price, by all means take in a minor league game.
    Oh, the game?  The Trenton Thunder lost, 4-2, when they couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead in the 9th inning.
    My daughter and I won, though. 
    And even got a couple of bobbleheads.            

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sign On the Ladies Room Door

Boy, when 'Borders' says "Everything Must Go"....

They're not kidding around.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome Back to School

  Soon, school bells will be ringing (do they even have those anymore?) and summer-weary parents will once again not have to endure whines of "I'm bored!!" from kids who don't want to walk 15 feet away from their X-Box 360 to jump in the pool.
  As I've driven past some of the District's schools, I've noticed a growing sense of manic preparation in eager anticipation of newly-arriving students next week.
  I've also noticed the following sign and have to wonder:

  Is there any other kind?

Enjoy that readin', writin', and 'rithmatic.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dare To Compare??

  I'm thinking The Home Depot is overstating the perils of comparison shopping for wood flooring just a tad.
  If, on the other hand, this is your version of "daring," you lead a pretty sweet life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Urkel Goes For a Bike Ride

While Putin goes hunting.....

"Comrade, please to tell us how we lost Cold War."

Monday, August 15, 2011


    I’m a conservative.  Have been for quite some time.
    I debated the merits of Richard Nixon versus George McGovern at 14 years old.  As it happens, that didn’t turn out so well (both the Nixon Administration and my adolescence).
    When first able to vote, I did so in favor of Gerald Ford.  And promptly fell down the stairs of the polling place (thank you, Chevy Chase, for giving me, and countless others, a punch line).
    In every election since, I pulled the lever in favor of the Republican candidate.  Even after George W. Bush’s shenanigans drove me away from the GOP, I still held views more closely aligned with the Right Wing than anything the party of the donkey had to offer.
    I even held my nose and voted for the lesser of two evils in the 2008 presidential election.  I felt-still do-that Barack Obama was the greater of two evils.  Since that time, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that weasels from both political persuasions infest the halls of Congress.
    So, it probably comes as no surprise that I supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks (during which I lost two very good friends), I knew that Al-Qaeda must surely be destroyed.  Also, I refused to believe Bush lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.  Like Clinton, he held to the opinion that Saddam Hussein presented a “clear and present danger” (to quote Tom Clancy) to the United States.
    Fast forward nearly ten years.  Hussein is dead and Al-Qaeda has been largely driven from Afghanistan.
    Yet, thousands of American men and women are in harm’s way in those cesspools.
    This past weekend, my family and I went to Virginia Beach (for those who didn’t pass Middle School Geography, it’s in Virginia) to see family, go to the beach, and escape the monsoons which struck the Lehigh Valley.
    Like many other like-minded tourists, we sought a brief respite from our day-to-day lives.  Time grows short because, before you know it, school will start again and 2011 will slide inexorably toward the Twelve Days of Christmas.
    Somewhere between dolphin watching and shopping for frogs-smoking-cigars figurines, I noticed a whole lot of American flags flying half-mast.  When I wondered why, I was told that they were in memory of the 30 Americans who were killed after their Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban.
    That 22 of them were from SEAL Team Six, based in Virginia Beach, made it even more poignant.
    It was made clear to me that the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia has shouldered more than their fair share of a conflict which now includes playing “whack-a-mole” with the lunatics in Libya.
    To them, the wars are deadly real and not just something to glance over in the local paper before dinner.  Before wondering whether Bert and Ernie are gay or if Two and a Half Men can survive without Charlie Sheen.
    My companion offered her opinion that the United States should reinstitute the draft.  When she caught the “are you crazy?” look on my face, she explained.  If the sons and daughters of families who didn’t live in high military concentration areas were fighting and dying in two wars, you “could bet your bottom dollar” (it was a little harsher than that), we’d be out of those quagmires lickety-split (well, it was a little harsher than that, too).
    I had to admit.  She had a point.
    According to the New York Times (a publication whose editorial stance on most issues makes my skin crawl), as of August 9th, 4,200 Americans have been killed in Iraq and 1,685 in Afghanistan.
    Like I said, I’m a conservative, but my sympathy for the women and children of the Middle East stops when it comes to the women and children of the United States.  So, I have to ask:
    Why are we still there?   

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Carnival Time!

  No, I don't mean 'Carnivale.'  That's the drunken, half-naked, pre-Lenten bacchanal down in Brazil.
  I mean the Dublin Firemens Carnival in...uh...Dublin (Pennsylvania, not Ireland, for those of you who may have wandered in from outside the United States.  Can I see some papers?).
  A 90 year tradition which sets up shop along the shores of Route 313 (I know, but 'shores' sounded much more lyrical than 'pavement across the street from the farm that sells Amish furniture'), the Dublin Carnival is an annual summer treat that draws in the crowds from the surrounding communities eager for one last gasp of summer before it's back to school.
  NOTE:  It wasn't originally behind the firehouse on 313.  It used to be somewhere near the Dublin Borough Hall.  I'm not exactly sure.  But, since that was a long time ago and all of those people are dead (or incontinent), I don't feel like looking it up.
  Even though Hoagiefest is long gone, I eagerly look forward to this end-of-summer tradition because it reminds me of the ones I used to attend as a kid.  Although, when I was a kid, the ferris wheel was mule-driven.
  The Dublin Carnival features most of the staples of any similar backyard extravaganza (even fat guys with no shirts).  There are plenty of Midway rides, games of chance (although the games at Dublin aren't as rigged as others I've seen and the barkers aren't nearly as obnoxious.  "Hey, would you like to play?  No?  Okay, then.  Have a nice day."), and plenty of delicious, absolutely dreadful (nutritionally speaking) things to eat.
  There's even entertainment up on the carnival's main stage.  In fact, "Bill Clinton and His Band" will be appearing next week.  Personally, I think it's fantastic that the former president has found something to do in his spare time.
  As I gotten older, I no longer ride most of the rides.  Even the Ferris Wheel's repetitive up-and-down motion (no, I won't go there.  This is a "family" column) makes me queasy.  And, while it looks awesome, being flung around like a tethered ping pong ball by Vertigo couldn't end well for me (I'm thinking carnival goers wouldn't want to be splattered by used funnel cake).  Plus, you can forget about the Gravitron.  The ultimate Spin-N-Puke, I'd end up with funnel cake being splattered on me.
  Kids, knock yourselves out.  They look fantastic, but not for me.
  No, I much prefer the rush of the slides.  Even though my hiney will probably get stuck and I'll be the cause of a massive toddler pile-up.
  Even though my age has kept my feet pretty much planted on the ground and immediately adjacent to anyone who would sell me cotton candy, cheese fries, and Diet Coke, I love going to the Dublin Carnival.  It's cheap entertainment for an exceptionally good cause, the volunteers (volunteers) who have the guts to go into burning houses.  I'm glad we have men and women who would do that.
  So, if you get a chance, head on out to the carnival.
  Even though the "Jimmy Carter Moonshine Jug Band" isn't playing this year.

HOW TO GET THERE:  The Dublin Firemens Carnival is on Route 313 is in Dublin, Pennsylvania, behind the Dublin Firehouse (NOTE: Three uses of 'Dublin' in one sentence.).  From Doylestown: take a car.  From Quakertown:  Take a car.  From Lancaster:  Take a buggy.  Give yourself a couple days.
That's pretty much all I got.  Whaddya think I am? Map-Quest?  At any rate, if you need this blog to get directions to the carnival, you have problems.  Good luck.